Schenley Theater

3960 Forbes Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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DRIVEIN101 on April 18, 2018 at 10:12 am

Final day of operation at the Schenley was June 30, 1958 with “Long, Hot Summer” and “The Sheepman”

RSM3853 on January 13, 2015 at 4:06 pm

The Strand Theater in Oakland closed during the week of June 28, 1978. The last movies there were “The Great Smokey Roadblock” and “Dixie Dynamite”.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm

The 1924 ad must have been for the reopening of the Schenley as a movie house under new management. An item in the June 28, 1958, issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that the theater “…was acquired in 1924 by the forerunners of the present Stanley-Warner Corporation.”

rivest266 on September 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm

This opened on August 29th, 1924. Grand opening ad in photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2011 at 5:27 am

The Arcadia Press book Oakland, by Walter C. Kidney, attributes the design of the facade of the Schenley Theatre to Henry Hornbostel. As Hornbostel did design (or collaborate on) other buildings in the Schenley Park neighborhood, it’s possible that he did collaborate on the theater project as well.

The April 8, 1915, issue of Engineering News has an article with structural drawings of the Schenley Theatre and a description of its construction. The article also says that the Davis Theatre in Pittsburgh, then under construction, had been designed by the same architects and engineers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2011 at 3:18 am

Additional information about the Schenley Theatre from the January 5, 1914, issue of American Stone Trade: “Ground was broken this week for the new Schenley Theater to be built by Harry Davis and John P. Harris in Forbes street, opposite the Hotel Schenley, from plans by the H. E. Kennedy Company of this city and approved by Architect Henry Hornbostle. The theater in many respects will be one of the most artistic in this city.”

This, coupled with the information from Denis McNamara about Edward Schulte (see my previous comment) leads me to question the attribution of the design of the Liberty Theatre to Henry Hornbostle. I’ll comment further on the Liberty page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2011 at 2:58 am

A comment by Denis McNamara on the Sheridan Square Theatre page says that architect Edward J. Schulte listed this theater on his resume as his work. He was employed by H.E. Kennedy & Co. at the time. The following item appears in the August 5, 1913, issue of the journal American Stone Trade: “Architects H. E. Kennedy & Company, of this city, are preparing plans for $200.000 theater to be known as the Schenley, and to be built for Harry Davis and John P. Harris, well known amusement men of Pittsburgh. It will be erected near the opening of Schenley Park.”

milanp on December 27, 2010 at 7:16 am

I will definitely check it out, Ed; thanks again.
Some of the best, and happiest, memories of my misbegotten youth was taking a Greyhound bus to downtown Pittsburgh (this was before I could drive), and spending a day in all those great Pittsburgh theaters seeing one movie after another.
I remember a New Year’s Day 1974 trip when I saw “The Exorcist” at the Warner, “Sleeper” at the Fiesta then took a cab (big spender!) to the Squirrel Hill to see “Day for Night.”
Or New Year’s Day 1975 (“The Godfather, Part II” at the Gateway, “The Night Porter” at Shadyside" and “The Little Prince” at King’s Court).
Or day-after-Thanksgiving 1974 (“The Klansman” at the Stanley, “The Gambler” at the Fiesta, “Law and Disorder” at the Fulton and “Earthquake” at the Warner).
By the time the ‘70s ended, the mystique of Pittsburgh movie theaters was seriously on the wane.
I think it all dates back to the opening of Showcase East in June '76.

edblank on December 27, 2010 at 6:01 am

The Strand Theatre is on Cinema Treasures. It’s No. 6947. I have not gotten around to putting an entry on there yet. Can’t give you the Strand’s closing date offhand. It was mostly a second-run neighborhood house but tried a bit of art in its later years. I believe that it had the second-highest capacity (to the Schenley) of all the Oakland theaters.

milanp on December 27, 2010 at 5:53 am

Thanks for the info, Ed.
A bowling alley on the second floor?! That’s a hoot!
Any idea when the Strand finally closed its doors? It looked like the type of funky neighborhood theater that was already a dying breed when I was growing up in the ‘60s.
One of the things I loved about Pittsburgh theaters was that you could predict which movies would open where because they all had a distinct personality/identity of their own. That’s certainly a far cry from today when everything opens everywhere because every damn multiplex has 24 interchangeable, anonymous screens.
It was the same thing in NYC back in the '70s (particularly with “Bloomingdales Belt” theaters like Cinema 1, the Coronet and the Sutton) when I was in college.

edblank on December 27, 2010 at 5:39 am

You’re thinking of the Strand, which straddled the years from the era of the Schenley through the early years of the King’s Court. The Strand was on Forbes Avenue like the other two.

There was a bowling alley on the second floor of the Strand.

But its main distinction was being one of the only two Western Pennsylvania theaters that I know of (the Etna in Etna being the other) where you entered the theater from behind the screen and walked up a slope toward the projection booth to select a seat.

milanp on December 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Does anyone recall the name of a second-run neighborhood theater in Oakland?
I remember discovering it by accident in May 1977 when I drove in from Youngstown to see “Star Wars” at the (dully instiutional) Showcase East, and “Andy Warhol’s Bad” at the (fabulous) King’s Court.
This unknown theater was playing “The White Buffalo” with Charles Bronson, and I seem to recall it being a block over from the K-Court.

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on January 5, 2009 at 8:02 am

A news item related to a theater does not make it a “crime related website.”

edblank on November 28, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Those were the days, Ken. I read the listings for every theater every day in the Pittsburgh newspapers, Ken. Loved the mix ‘n’ match aspect of double features in those days. They did not even have to be from the same studio.

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

That’s correct. The Stanley Warner listings in the 1955 directory shows the phone number for the Stanley Theater at 207 7th Street as ATlantc 1-9200. Maybe the Schenley used a general number for information. There are 19 S-W theaters listed in 1955 for Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.

edblank on November 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Can’t swear to this without checking, Ken, but I believe that phone number was for the Stanley, Downtown. The Schenley was part of the Stanley-Waerner Theatre circuit. ATlantic definitely was a Downtown exchange. The Oakland neighborhood used the SChenley and MUseum exchanges.

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2008 at 12:19 pm

The name is misspelled in the caption, should be Schenley. It was listed in the 1955 yellow pages but gone by 1960. Phone number in 1955 was ATlantc 1-9200.

edblank on March 26, 2005 at 7:33 pm

The Schenley opened either Oct. 21, 1914, or Aug. 30, 1924. A trade story indicated the original capacity at 2100. It was located at 3960 Forbes Avenue and was the largest theater in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. It was razed around the late 1950s. On the site is the University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library. — Ed Blank